#55 How To Prepare for an Interview and Land Your Dream Job, Chat With Nidhi Belani
Today, my guest is Nidhi Bellani, she’s an interviewer and people skill specialist, certified image consultant, NLP coach, and ACTA certified trainer and founder of Success Talks. And she has 15 years of experience in the training and service industry and built a community of more than 15,000 followers online. So through her work, she helps cabin crew aspirants prepare for the interview and scorepositions in leading airlines.
Today we’re not only going to talk about how to become a cabin crew, how to score your dream job in the international airlines, but also her experience and knowledge can help you score your dream job in any of the industry, and become more confident on your interview.
Listen to the audio podcast HERE.
Yasi: So let’s welcome Nidhi.
Nidhi Belani: Thank you, Yasi. That’s an amazing introduction, you’ve pretty much covered everything. I’m really happy to be here and to be able to share my insights and experience with everyone.
Yasi: Yes. And I have some interesting stories to share with you. You know, I don’t remember like maybe eight, nine years ago, I went to interviews with Singapore Airlines and other airlines. And that’s why I’m so interested to understand, like how do you evaluate candidates? You know, how can someone prepare better for the interview? So maybe let me start with the first question.
How did you become an airline hostess in Singapore airlines, which is, we all know, one of the best airlines in the world?
Nidhi Belani: Absolutely. And I think the decision that I made now I think when it was? 14, 15, 14 years ago. Yeah. 14 years ago. I think one of the best decisions of my life that I made in 2007, but I do have to say that decision wasn’t entirely mine.
That decision was propelled by two very important people in my life. So my sister, who is now in India, is actually a cabin crew. She’s a flight attendant with Indian airlines, which is the national carrier of India. That’s where I’m from. I’m originally from India and my mom. My mom has a huge role in my career decisions.
So I still remember growing up actually, becoming a cabin crew wasn’t something that I fancied as much. I always always wanted to be a trainer. I wanted to be a facilitator. And that’s when the airline opportunity came, and I went for the interview. And again, I have to share with you that I actually did not get through the first few airlines that I applied for.
I went for JetAirwais. That’s again, one of the carriers based out of India, I’ve been run for British airways, and I did not get through. And when I went for Singapore airlines before I went for the interview, there’s one thing that my mom told me, and this is something that I teach my students as well, and I think that is where the basis of the entire interview coaching also essentially lies in. So my mom told me that you have to make your interview as visualize you in the role that you’re applying for. And for that, you have to do two things: you have to first and foremost understand the role itself, what kind of skillset does it essentially requires. You might have a lot of skillsets that you might think are best, but are those the skillsets that interviewers are essentially looking for? So that’s number one. And number two, you really have to make them visualize you in that role, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.
So, so those were two great takeaways for me before I actually went for a Singapore airlines interview, and that’s exactly how I scored it. I made sure that I showed them the skillset that is something that they were looking for, and I made them visualize me being a Singapore girl that they could see, you know, working for them at the end of the day.
And that’s essentially what I do share with a lot of my students, but that’s just a little bit of the entire interview coaching.
Yasi: All right. And it’s so interesting because recently I’m reading a book. It’s exactly what you talk about, as if you want something in life, you have to visualize it.
But if you project yourself the way you always used to be, you will reflect the history in the future, but you have to think differently. You have to think about what you want as if you already have it and then project it. And then we call it like a quantum field or quantum self. You will get what you want.
I think similar to what you said, like think that you are already in the role. And do you remember how many rounds of interviews there were back then?
Nidhi Belani: Yes. Oh my God, I think the longest interview of my life actually, because back then, the Singapore airlines interviews were not one day, but it used to take one year actually.
So yes, I’m not joking. So they would actually like essentially come back for, you know. So the first interview happened, and then I had to wait for six months, and then they will come back for the second interview, and then I had to, again, wait for six months and things like that. So I think it took about a year before I actually got a final call from them.
So yeah, but now it’s pretty straightforward. People usually know within a day’s time. They will know at the end of the day, or probably they’ll know in few weeks whether they have been selected. For some airlines, it works a little bit differently. I mean, for most industries, actually, you wouldn’t get to know at the end of the day, but some airlines actually, you will get to know at the end of the day, because is, as I was just sharing, airlines these days conduct interviews differently.
They actually go through all the interview runs on the same day. So you start maybe at 8:00 PM, and you know, if you’re lucky to go through all the rounds and if you’re prepared well, then you will essentially finish like 9:00 PM, 10:00 PM. And that’s when you will know that you’ve gotten selected.
In some cases, you wouldn’t; they’ll get back to you within a few weeks.
Yasi: All right. So like you mean 8:00 AM till 9:00 PM? Oh.
Nidhi Belani: Yes, yes.
Yasi: 11–12 hours. Okay. Yeah. I remember back then I went to Suntec city, I think is in Suntec and Singapore airlines had like a big hall, and then there are different stages, and you have to go for the first round, second round, third round, but in the middle, you might be eliminated.
And it was so funny, I even got to the last round. The last round is like
Nidhi Belani: testing
Yasi: in-person interview where they look at your CV. Right. They’re going to ask you a question. And then is, okay, the long story short.
So cause I was working in big corporates for like two years intensively and I really want to explore the world and what would be the best way to explore the world than to become like a cabin crew by Singapore airlines, right.
That’s why I decided to go for the interview, but because my background, my exploration, and education really did not match the position, so they think, like, why the hell you are here? You are working with this company. You know, they think like you have an amazing job, why you want to be here. And I explained why I want to fly, I want, you know, explore the world. They’re like, okay, pass, next.
Nidhi Belani: Well, yeah. I mean, that’s what our aspirations are, but probably that’s not what they are looking for all the time.
Yasi: So from your last 15 years working in airlines, and then what did you learn from your experiences that, you know, you mentioned to become more confident. So what are the learnings you gained that helps you to become more confident at doing what you’re doing?
Nidhi Belani: So, I want to essentially say that the learnings only came from my Singapore airlines experience.
I think this is something that essentially I have gained through my entire life experience. And this is what I tell people, you know, it’s not your work experience that teaches you. It’s your life experience that actually teaches you a lot of things. So, going back to an experience that I would like to share with everyone here, and this is the first time essentially, I think I realized that it’s important to believe in yourself, which is an essential component of being confident.
So let me share this with you. Apart from, you know, being a trainer, I was a trainer back in India, before I joined Singapore airlines. I used to be an MC. I used to love hosting events, something that I used to do out of passion. And I’ve never said this, this is the first event that I’ve ever done in my life. The first-ever event that I hosted. It was by chance because it just so happened that, and I think I was 16. So, we were at a party. We were at a gathering and, the host didn’t show up on time because the host got stuck in traffic, and of course, everyone was waiting for the party to start.
And my mom looked at me, and because that was one of my mom’s really good friend’s events, and my mom said, Hey, you always wanted to hold shows, why don’t you do it now? And I was like, mom, I’m not even prepared, you know, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do. And my mom was like, do you believe in yourself?
Do you always believe that you can do it? This is something that you always wanted to do. Give it a shot, you know, it’s fine, just do your best, you know, and leave everything to the rest. And I was like, fine. And I got up to this stage, and I actually hosted that event. I wouldn’t say that I probably did the best.
I wouldn’t say that I would have done better than the host would have because, obviously, I didn’t have the relevant experience, but I did it just because I believed in myself. And I think the second important thing is, you will get opportunities, but if you keep thinking about how other people are going to judge you, perceive you all the time, then you will never, never be able to take them up.
And that is where you also get self-confidence because, you know, one of the important pillars of being confident is to learn from your mistakes, your areas of opportunity. Right? So that’s when I essentially also learned that if I want to be better at this, there are some things that I need to learn, I need to do. And that’s where I went about doing them. And that’s what made me more confident.
So yeah, that was my experience, for confidence in general.
Yasi: That was very a great lesson that you learned at a younger age. And then you can really remember it, so you keep using that across your career.
And then, for candidates who are looking for, you know, to get the dream jobs, how can you advise them to be more confident if they have never experienced such events in life to make them believe in themselves?
What can they do?
Nidhi Belani: So, I would probably work on two things, and that’s what I would advise candidates to do as well.
One of the things that you could do to be confident is to be competent. And I think that plays a huge role. I feel competence drives confidence. So if you’re going for an interview, you have to make sure that you prepare, you have to make sure that you know, you have the right knowledge of the industry, the job role, the people that you’re meeting for that matter of fact, you know, you’ve prepared the interview questions. Of course, I never tell my students to remember the answers, but I teach them the right techniques so that they should be able to answer questions. So competence, I think that is really, really important.
That really, really takes care of a lot of things. Clarity sort of also combines with confidence. When you have clarity of your goals, what do you want to achieve, what’s your timeline, so that kind of also adds onto the competence the way you would prepare yourself at the end of the day to be able to successfully clear the interview.
So that’s one. And of course, we can talk about all of this in a little more detail, but that’s really number one, I think being competent is really, really important. And, second, I feel it is, and this is a combination of a few things it’s to work with your subconscious, you know. As an NLP coach, that is something that we do all the time.
A lot of times just, you know, working with yourself can really help you to be more confident. So, one of the things that we do, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this thing, this word if you’ve ever heard this word called anchoring.
Yasi: Yeah. In a different context, like a negotiation.
Nidhi Belani: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. We anchor people in negotiation as well. Right. I mean, anchoring and sales, anchoring and negotiation, but you can also use it to instill feelings, right? So you can anchor yourself to feel confident in certain ways by, actually, you know, going through some NLP techniques and things like that.
So that will give you that instant boost of confidence. Yes. Like, you know how people do when they go for speaking, all the TEDx speakers they do like, I think the Wake (Wake Up Mentor — Faisal Shah) was sharing this with me as well. He listens to a particular set of a playlist, and he applies a certain perfume and things like that.
So, so that kind of gives that instant boost of confidence at the end of the day. And, you know, just small things like there’s something really interesting that I share with my students. A lot of times, you know, interview coaches would tell you that when you go to the interview, don’t compare yourself.
Right. Don’t compare yourself to other people, but I always tell my students that you should compare yourself. You know, when you go to that interview, you should compare yourself. The only difference is, what do you do with that comparison? So do you compare yourself to self enhance or do you compare yourself to self-evaluate?
Right. So instead of self-evaluation, do some self-enhancement, you know, if someone’s better than you just see what they’re doing better than you, and then, you know, try to incorporate them in your own personality. So, at the end of the day, as I said, the two major things, one is competence, and one is your personality.
How do you perceive yourself, and how do you project in front of other people using your subconscious at the end.
Yasi: Yeah. Yeah, I like the second point. You talk about personality because oftentimes, I also interviewed a lot of people in the past. I have observed that when people come to interview, they kind of like trying to be someone else.
And I feel that, you know, they try to be someone else. I don’t see who they are, not being authentic. And then, there are some candidates, they are, you know, they are competent; therefore they’re confident. They are themselves, you know you feel that, okay, this person really fits into the role, fits into the team, and is the right candidate.
I think also like show who you are, your personality, it’s important. They don’t have to, you know, pretend to be a figure to present in front of the interviewer.
Nidhi Belani: Oh my God. That is so spot on. Actually, can I have this part of the recording? I do want to share it with my students. So it’s always great to hear from someone who’s been there as an interviewer.
And when you hear something from their mouth, it’s so much more believable, you know? So I definitely want this part of the recording. I want to share it with my students. That is so spot on that. So spot on, because I think showcasing that genuine personality really makes a lot of difference, and it puts you at ease as well.
You know you don’t have to be someone else. You can be yourself, just that you have to tweak that personality a little bit and work on your strengths and not showcase your weaknesses and, you know, build that rapport with your interviewers because that’s something that a lot of people like as well.
I feel, you know, a lot of people think an interview is a question/answer section where the interviewer’s going to ask you a bunch of questions, and you just have to answer. And, you know, that’s what I ask my students all the time. The interviewers don’t sit with the list of questions as well.
Nidhi Belani: They only sit with the checklist and, you know, things that they’re looking at. So if they don’t know what questions they’re going to ask, like, how do you think they actually want to do a question-answer session with you? They just want to have a conversation with you.
Yasi: Yes. And at the end of the day, they are hiring the person, right. They are not hiring a machine. So it’s important not that you show competency, but you also show your personality.
Nidhi Belani: Absolutely. I mean, and that’s where the difference between perfection and personalization comes into play, right? A lot of people keep asking me like, Can you tell me a perfect answer to this question?
And I tell them there is no perfect answer to any question, but there is a personalized answer, and I can teach you how to give that personalized answer, but I cannot teach you how to get the perfect answer because I don’t think it exists.
Yasi: Yeah, totally. Okay, let’s talk about the mistakes. Can you give us some examples of the typical mistakes people are making in the interviews? So the audience can avoid that?
Nidhi Belani: Definitely. I think one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of people make is they try to write down the answers. And then they tried to remember that answer. And I think that is a huge, huge mistake because for me, in particular, I always teach my students to write down keywords, you know, a couple of techniques. And one of the techniques that we teach to our students is called a mental memory technique, where we basically teach you how to make a tree, sort of the thing, based on the points that you would want to share that particular answer based on that particular question that you’re trying to address, and then built on using those keywords. So I would tell my students to actually, you know, just take a card, like, you know, those cards that you get and just write down the keywords and then every time you practice, just use those keywords and then build on your answer instead of actually writing down the entire answer and then trying to memorize it. Because when you go to the interview and then if you don’t remember one sentence or the interviewer sort of interrupts you anywhere, then your whole, you know, the whole thing just gets out of order and then you don’t know where you are, and that’s what people tend to, you know, stutter and stammer, because if they don’t remember something, then they’ll be like, oh, what’s the next one that I was supposed to do. Right. So I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of people make.
And I definitely tell people not to do that. And as I was just sharing, I think the second mistake that people make is treating interviews as a question-answer session and not really your conversation. You know, just showing a little bit on that. A lot of times, we give opportunities to our interviewers to ask questions.
We could actually turn it around. We can turn the table around, but actually leading our interview is by making them ask questions the way we actually end our answers and then just making it into more of a conversation sort of thing. And as I said, all of this comes from the preparation, but with the right feedback, and I think That’s going a few steps backward is one of the mistakes that a lot of people make. So practicing, you know, interview-wise, of course, when you’re giving answers, you have to make it more conversational, and you have to work with your personality. You have to be genuine, but tracing back a little bit when you’re preparing yourself as well, right? I feel a lot of people like stand in front of the mirror and practice answers, right. And then the first question that I have for them is, does the mirror give you feedback or actually tell you what did you do wrong. Can you actually rewind and see what you actually said? You can’t, right I mean, it’s great to see your expressions, but you could do that on a video, you know, as well.
And that’s why we actually run this program, which is unique, and we call it Just like Netflix. So we have this program where we have a set of questions that we release, and every week our students actually record answers to those questions, and they put it up on this Facebook group, I will actually give them feedback.
So what happens is they get to practice their video interviewing skills because I think times are changing in a lot of employers are looking at video interviews. So, you know, that gives them leverage in comparison to other people. So they already have their setup ready. They’re very confident in front of the camera because they always record their answers, and they put it up on the Facebook group, but at the same time, they get feedback, so they know they’re working in the right direction. And on top of that, why I really like community learning is because you don’t just learn from my feedback, but you also get to learn from other people’s answers and the feedback that has been shared with them. So imagine that there are 50 questions, and there are 50 people.
You have close to 2,500 answers and a sort of database where you can learn from other people. So, I think preparation with the right feedback, that is really important.
Yasi: Yeah. This is really so valuable. I remember when I was in university, we had a course called the finishing touch, so it’s about how to write a CV, how to interviews. And then the professor recorded every single person’s mock interview and I, remember that I did not dare to look at myself; it was so scary. The recording was so scary. I mean, if I didn’t watch the video, I would be thinking, okay. It goes well, it’s okay. But if you’re watching it, actually was like, oh my God, it’s so horrible.
Yeah. I think it recorded,
Nidhi Belani: But I think you’ve come a long way.
Yasi: I really like what you are doing, you know, like ask the students to record. And then everybody can give, or you can give the student feedback, and the students even can learn from other students’ video recordings because then they see something maybe they are not doing, they can learn from each other.
It’s a really great community. Nowadays, like with the cabin crew interview, what do you think just for specifically for cabin crew, this position, what do you think the airlines are looking for? Is there a specific characteristic, personality, or looks? I don’t know.
Nidhi Belani: I think when it comes to cabin crew, or aviation industry in general, especially for the position of cabin crew, the image has always been an important aspect because let’s be honest, it is the image that people usually associate the brand with, right. When I say Singapore airlines, we don’t think of anything else but Singapore girl, right. And you don’t think of a specific girl, but you think of this image of a Singapore girl carrying herself, wearing that beautiful kebaya, you know, so, so image actually does play a huge role. Of course, it’s a little bit different for different airlines. Singapore airlines have a certain image of candidates that they look for, the Middle Eastern airlines have a certain understanding of the image that they look for.
So it’s obviously a little bit different for different airlines, but the image does play a huge part. So in terms of physical grooming, yes. That would still play that huge part. You know, just keeping yourself fit at the end of the day. And when we say fit, it’s not that you have to lift heavy things.
It’s BMI fit, it’s what we refer to. So yeah, keeping yourself physically fit, I think that’s really, really important. Grooming yourself well is still very important, but at the same time, I feel because there is such a shift in the industry. They definitely look for, I still wouldn’t say because cabin crew is one industry that doesn’t really focus on hiring a lot of experienced people.
And again, as I said, based on the geographical location, the Asian aviation industry, Certainly, looks for younger people, but middle Eastern airlines and European airlines are still okay with people at a certain age, or even if they’re married or they have committed. So keeping all of that apart, I would still say that because times are changing, even though they’re not looking for people who might, you know, who would have the experience, but they’re definitely looking for people who might be more adaptable and resilient because, you know, given how the aviation industry has gone through such a turmoil and lost one and a half years, flexibility and adaptability would play a huge, huge role.
And just to be able to, you know, adapt to changing circumstances would play a huge role someone has to be really, really resilient because, you know, we have seen how customers sometimes behave, especially in recent cases. So someone who imbibes all of that and is still able to provide that up service-oriented and hospital experience to the customers.
But yes, I think adaptability, cultural intelligence, emotional intelligence, resilience, and flexibility would be some of the things that the airlines would definitely focus a lot more on when it comes to hiring people.
Yasi: Yeah. Generally, I find the service industry is really difficult. The jobs in the service industry, because you kind of not pick who your customers will be, right?
Like you’re assigned to the role, you have to be flexible, as you said, adaptable, and also keep it professional. It’s a really difficult job.
What are the fun things you get out of your experience with Singapore Airlines?
Nidhi Belani: Wow. I do want to make one thing very clear. A lot of people think it’s a very glamorous job, and although the way I portray it because I loved my job and I loved it to the point that in 10 years of my flying, I did not even take a single medical leave because I did not feel the need for it. Of course, I was hospitalized a couple of times and stuff, but I did not deliberately take even a single medical leave because I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. When I’m not even a travel person, I’m actually not a travel person.
I don’t enjoy traveling. So for me, the criteria were not to explore the world and see the world when I became a cabin crew. The pros and cons, as I said, a lot of people think it’s glamorous, but, it’s a lot of physical labor, it’s a lot of emotional. It does take a lot out of you emotionally and mentally, but there are definitely a lot of fun parts to it, fun aspects to it.
And for me, particularly, what I really enjoyed was talking to people. I don’t think there has ever been a flight, even if I was tired, I wouldn’t chat up with my customers, I wouldn’t try to with my passengers. I think that is something that I really enjoyed and, I think because of that, I actually had a lot of fun, fun incidents to, you know, to look back at.
I remember there was once and, and this is just me, this is just me. Like I remember there was once the entertainment system wasn’t working and, and I sorta remember this was a really old aircraft, so I knew that it’s not gonna work, you know, and it was a Hong Kong flight. So it’s a really short flight, and it’s a full service.
So I really don’t have that much time. And you have to walk from like the back of the cabin right to the front of the cabin to actually reset the system, and resetting the system takes about 15 minutes in that old aircraft. So I think after doing it about two times, I was like, okay, I know this is not going to work.
So we’ve got to do something. And most people would actually like, you know, get magazines and stuff like that. And I just wanted to have some fun. So I went to tell the customer that, sir, this is not going to work, I’ve tried it two times, it’s really not going to work. I’m going to definitely give you magazines, you know so that you can spend the rest of the time and we’ll still keep trying. But if you really want to be entertained, you can do two things. You can either look at your wife or at me.
Yasi: Did you tell it to one customer, or do we broadcast it?
Nidhi Belani: I told you the one customer, but I’ve done like a lot of funny stuff because, and then I feel I can pull it off because I have that kind of personality.
And as you say, you know, you’ve got to be true to your personality sometimes, and you have to work with it — even interviews. I still don’t remember my leading interview for Singapore airlines when I was in the interview room. They will usually give you like a pack of cards, and you have to pick up a card, and that’s where the situation is, and you have to, you know, tell them what you would do in this particular situation. And even before I could actually pick a card, my first question to them was like, can I shuffle it? I really want to make sure that I get the best of my luck. And then they were like, oh, and then they started laughing, you know, and the first person who actually made us laugh today, anyone who came here was so serious.
I think it’s really important to genuinely know who you are and work with your personality. And I’m someone who is really witty and humorous. I like to think I’m humorous and witty. And I like to use that to build the port with people, you know, in general. So I used to do that a lot during my flying experience.
And yeah, I had a lot of fun.
Yasi: From this book, I think it’s called Mastery, yeah. It’s like the thing that you find passion in; with the three pillars is doing what you’re good at, and you have a good relationship with the people, why you are doing the things. And the other one is, and you enjoy doing what you are, or you have the freedom and autonomy doing, you know, assign this responsibility to yourself.
You have the freedom, autonomy to do it. So when you have those three elements together and then you find passion, and what you talk about is like the element that you enjoy while you are on your job, and you enjoy interacting with the people because you just be who you are. I think that also adds a little bit of fun to a job.
Nidhi Belani: Yeah, for sure. For sure. Yeah.
Yasi: My last question of today would be how can someone, you know, contact you if they are preparing for a very important job interview and need some coaching or, you know, a boost either in confidence or learn the techniques, how can they get in touch with you?
Nidhi Belani: For me, it’s really important that people get a lot of value whenever they interact with me at any point in time.
And I think that’s really, really important. So, we have a webinar that is actually on my website when people go to my website and all of that, I’ll share my website. So https://nidhi-belani .com, or you have to put the S so I can share the link later with you. So when you go to the website, the first thing that you will see on top is seven secrets to ace your interview.
And then we have actually based our coaching on seven pillars, which we think are really, really important when it comes to preparing for your interview. So, the pillars are basically seven Cs, so it’s CD, you know, you’re grooming how to communicate with the interviewers, the nonverbal interaction, the verbal interaction, and how do you connect with people.
So we talk about LinkedIn and also having clarity in terms of your personality and composure, how do you carry yourself with a composed, stressless mental state of mind. And, of course, how to develop confidence. It’s a two-hour webinar. So we share a lot of valuable tips.
And at the end of the webinar, we’ve talked about our coaching program, where people can actually understand what exactly do we do and how do we coach. And at the end of the day, there is a WhatsApp, my business WhatsApp number, which is something that people can get in touch with me after watching the webinar.
And that’s the easiest way to actually get in touch with me. But we also have newsletters on our landing page, on our website. People want to sign up for it, we do share valuable information. Whenever we release a new video on our YouTube or a lot of information that we share on Instagram, people can be in touch with us to our weekly email newsletter.
Yasi: Yeah. Personally, I would really recommend the audience like if you have a job that you really, really, really want and better to over-prepare than under-prepare. And if everybody is reading the same book, understands the same techniques, how are you going to have the extra edge? It is to have the insights, have the support from experts, have valuable feedback, I think it is so valuable, like what you said, preparation. So thank you so much for all your tips and advice for today. And I hope the audience, you know, some of them, if they have, you know, having this dream job in front of them, maybe they can get some help from you, score the dream job. I will leave all the links in the show notes.
And thank you so much for being here.
Nidhi Belani: Thank you, Yasi; I really appreciate having me on the show.